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The Eight Count
He passed the test.
Ramon took a knee in the middle of the Fifth Round and rose, shaking off the last punch that dropped him.
The referee finished the mandatory eight-count, grabbed Ramon’s gloves, and said, “Ramon, you okay?”
“Yeah yeah. Just needed a sec.”
“Can you say your ABCs backward?”
Ramon tilted his head at the referee and said, “Sure, uh, Z-Y-X...”
“Good, shake it off. Here we go. Fight,’ the referee said to both boxers.
Two days later after Ramon went onto victory in the Ninth Round, he saw the referee in a restaurant.
“Ramon, congratulations on a great Ninth. Wow. You brought it.”
“Thanks. Sir, I’ve got to ask you. Why’d you have me recite the first few letters of the ABCs backwards?”
“Good question. Most refs just ask your name or where you are right now. You can train to do that from rote memory. I saw you question my request in your mind at the time. I knew you were fine to continue. I just wanted to be sure you were gonna be okay. Just looking out for my fighters.”